10 Oct 2001 dto   » (Journeyer)

I've adjusted to life in Lowell. I think I'm going to be quite happy here.

I get more homesick than I thought. When Ari moved to Boston and told me how she felt, I never thought I'd get the same way. Well, I do :-).

I'm setting up a Wiki to organize myself, I have been dealing with 800 little text files for too long. . . the front page can have an immediate to-do list, then I can have Projects, Investigations, etc.

I realized this is my first post since the terrorist attacks. Ouch. I got back from breakfast after the second plane had hit---I was almost in the elevator when Grant (a suite-mate who has since left school due to activation by the Armed Forces) grabbed me and brought me into the big-screen TV room to see what was happening. I was absolutely floored, watching the smoke pour out of the tops of the buildings, wondering how the people above those points were going to escape, how long it would take to put out the fire, wondering why it had happened in the first place.

Over the next few minutes, that TV room filled up with students. We were confused when we saw "something" happen to one of the towers---the live coverage of the first collapse was at a funny angle, and it didn't really look like the whole thing had fallen. They said that it looked like part of the building, or the facade, had broken.

There was no confusion about the second one: the top of the building sank into a cloud of smoke and fire, and then everyone in the room gasped as we saw the tower blow itself apart floor by floor. The cloud of smoke traveled downward spreading over the streets, like watching a nuclear explosion in reverse.

At some point everyone had taken a break, and I was the only one in the room. They rapidly cut away from Manhattan covered in smoke, to another unidentifiable scene of devastation. It was the Pentagon on fire.

You know that funny camera trick they use at certain moments in a film, where the person in the foreground seems to move toward the camera but the "depth" of the scene seems to grow, so that the background is moving away at the same time? It's often used to give the effect of reality distorting, disintegrating, twisting into something malevolent, like the scene in the movie Poltergeist when the woman is trying to run down a hall that seems to get longer the more she runs.

That was what it seemed like. Nobody knew how far it would go, how many crashes there would be, what awful disaster was going to happen next.

Several times over the last few years I'd stayed with a friend just 2 blocks away from the World Trade Center, and shopped in that mall underneath the complex. I'd been in Brooklyn in late August, when we had to cancel a show because of equipment problems, and had hours left over to shop in Manhattan or see the sights again---previous trips had almost always been rushed because of the show schedule. But we didn't take advantage of the time, and simply went home. Now I wish I had taken a tour and seen the city from the top of the towers. Ari and I were in Boston together recently, and decided to go to the observation deck of the Hancock tower---she'd done it, but I hadn't, and I wasn't in the mood last time we'd been downtown in the summer. We found out the deck was closed indefinitely.

I have to confess---before Sept. 11, I barely knew anything about the World Trade Center other than it had been bombed when I was a freshman in High School. I drove into NYC several times a year since 1999 without really recognizing specific buildings from the highway. Absurdly, I'd walked right by them and underneath them without having looked up and known they were the tallest in the city.

George Will has written something to the effect that these attacks brought to a close a remarkable decade in which Americans were not preoccupied with foreign affairs. I don't know whether to be happy or sad that the Clinton/O.J./Bobbitt/Tonya Harding/Joey Buttafuoco/Lewinsky/Hanging Chad years are over.

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